Some people are great communicators, while others are not so good, especially when the topic is a difficult one.
We have had our share of unavoidable hard conversations.
Shall we have them or not?
To provide some context on difficult conversations, it is in reference to a conversation that is challenging to discuss. Some common topics include politics, religion, race, gender, sexuality, but it can extend to any conversation that makes people uncomfortable – such as asking a loved one to quit smoking.
We should not avoid difficult conversations out of fear of the consequences.
More often than not, these talks are worth the effort if there is a chance they could improve our life or the life of loved ones. So, do NOT turn a blind eye to something that is bugging us. Instead, learn how to say it conclusively.
There are three elements present during difficult conversations that need improvement:
- Conversation revolving around who is right or wrong? What intentions are behind the message? Which is to blame?
- Maintaining emotions present during conversation such as anger, frustration, uncertainty, fear, and hurt will not make it any easier.
- Involving our Identity, referring to the character of the individual, will probably bring even more confusion.
What can we do to make the conversation more effective and productive?
- Bring curiosity into the conversation; try to figure out where the other person is coming from, instead of thinking how this person can be so irrational. Make it more like a learning conversation. Perhaps, we shall question, “Can this person know something I do not?”. Never assume intentions, focus more on actions; this can help us avoid jumping to our own conclusions. Concentrate more on value-added, instead of blaming. Do not make it about who is right or wrong.
- Emotions are very hard to deal with and it is even harder to share them especially if they threaten to embarrass us. Share the good and evil; use the words wisely and in a thoughtful manner. Be thankful for the concern rather than offended by the ‘how dare’. Pay attention to our inner voice to overpower the voice of others.
- Focus on the intricacies of the identity conversation.
Think about the different traits that we deem essential; characteristics that we are proud and afraid of losing. Avoid thoughts or words that trigger interpretation, they can lead to more confusion. Give up the notion that we can control the other person’s reaction. “All – or – nothing identities are very weak.”
No need to blame each other. There are plenty of ways to embrace our loved ones.